Friday, November 05, 2010

Chicago Jewish community not bothered...

The Chicago Jewish community appears to be getting along just well following last week's events.

The weekend after news broke that two parcels addressed to Chicago Jewish institutions had been intercepted en route and found to contain bombs, it was business as usual at the city’s synagogues and kosher restaurants, and at the Bernard Horwich JCC in West Rogers Park, one of several heavily Jewish neighborhoods in Chicagoland.

There was no visible presence of Chicago police at area Jewish institutions, and families came and went casually, Orthodox children darting along the sidewalks between kids in Halloween costumes.[...]

Rabbi Asher Lopatin, the spiritual leader of Anshe Sholom B’Nai Israel Congregation, an Orthodox synagogue in the Lakeview neighborhood on the North Side, agreed that the terror threat hasn’t disturbed a feeling of security among Chicago’s Jews. Lopatin said his synagogue had not been notified that it was targeted, and from the news reports, he’s not sure that any Jewish institutions were really the target of the packages.

“It doesn’t really seem [the terrorists] had a grasp of who was targeted,” Lopatin said. “Perhaps they were just using those addresses to get the packages on the planes.”

Lopatin said that Chicago’s Jews generally feel safe, as do most Americans. Part of the reason for this is the “warm” relations with the area’s Muslims, whom Lopatin described as a “partner minority.” He contrasted the situation for Jews in Chicago with that in Paris, where Muslim youths have beaten and murdered Jews on several occasions. In Chicago, Lopatin noted that the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago issued a statement condemning the attacks immediately after the first news reports broke stating that area Jewish institutions were targeted.

“We feel comfortable in our neighborhood wearing kippot,” Lopatin said. “We are not going to let the threat of terrorism stop us from being welcoming.”

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